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MODERN MARTIAL ARTS
Why Martial Artists are egotistical and ageist
by The MMA Team on May 31st, 2019

Wow! what a title!

However, I fully intend to explain and I fully intend to stick by the title.

I was looking at the success of our Little Champions program the other day. Im currently in the process of packaging it and publishing it onto an online training providers site, so it can be sold to other people wanting to run a martial arts program for 3 - 5 year olds.

Then I got to thinking about how this could be developed into a profitable part time business for anyone wanting to earn some good money, whilst having fun and providing a good honest service to parents of this age group. A good part time wage could be easily achieved from a few hours work a week.

Great eh?

I started looking around some groups and there were some posts from people (coincidentally) about this actual topic. These people were 'old school' martial artists on about how they wondered if these schools that teach 3 year olds also had professionally trained nappy changers to go with their professionally trained playschool teachers.

This was joined with a photo of a clear baby (under 1 years) that had a karate gi on and a black belt.

I interjected and I put up a photo of one of our success stories. (obviously edited for recognition purposes) a 3 year old whom had struggled to start classes with us and for a while could not settle down and was challenging.  However, we had seen many students of this age do this before and we suggested shorter class times, start after warm up, dont worry, lets persevere and things will change.

And change they did. This young person is now still only 4 and a shining example of how great someone of this age can be.

I posted this with pride and explained how our Little Champions is NOT a martial arts class. Its a PRE martial arts class, much like PRE School classes.  Its designed to prepare someone for what is to come, much like Nursery or Preschool does for students who will be going to Primary School around the age of 5.

Let me clarify this for anyone reading. Our Little Champions IS NOT a martial arts class.  There are many many martial arts classes around - Little Dragons, Little Tigers, Little Ninjas etc etc, and they are ALL martial arts classes for younger students. All of these are based around American ideals and whilst they have some valuable content individually in their programs, they are not geared towards a UK market.  This is why we came up with Little Champions. Its exclusive to us and its made from our experiences in teaching these age groups. All our success and all our failure was studied and honed down into a manageable syllabus geared specifically for the 3 - 5 years of age. 

So back to this conversation about the group.  My response was intended to try and give a different perspective to these people about how this age group can learn from us and produce some great results.  My perspective was met with mockery. Absolute shameless mockery.

The very notion that these 'babies' could possibly learn anything at that age was preposterous and we were being nothing more than child minders, not martial arts Instructors.

I started to protest and then I was told I was being 'disrespectful' and what was wrong with me? I obviously didnt know what I was talking about and I should listen to them as they had more experience than me.

Wow.  

There's that word again. I use it as its totally apt for the disbelief I was experiencing in reaction to my post.   I need to go over a few things.

These 'babies' are growing at a phenomenal rate and are learning to walk, talk, interact, read, write etc etc.  

What better time to get them to learn other new skills?

Skills that will benefit them greatly?  Increased gross motor skill functions, extra use of fine motor skills, learning balancing and counter balancing, colour and number recognition, counting, social interaction, learning to take turns, to wait, to listen, to follow instructions and much more. I could spend a whole day on this part alone.

Would we ever tell someone they were too old to do martial arts in this day and age?

I think not.

Rather, we would adapt our lesson plan and expectations to adapt to their age and ability.  To take this further, I have personally taught people in wheelchairs, people whom are registered blind and people with no legs! In this day and age of inclusion, how is it fair to allow anyone to do the martial arts, except these 'babies' as they are simply too young?

Also, even if we WERE being childminders to these children (which we are not) is that beneath us as martial artists? to fill a young child's time with positive activity?  to provide a service for a fair price?

Wow.

There I go again.  I cannot help myself!

I simply cannot believe that as so called martial artists, we are denying access to the arts for someone based purely on their age and ignorant misconceptions of their abilities.

I posed this question to some other people, people whom I train with and trust and respect and some agreed with me. Some did not.  The general belief is that they are simply too young to learn and will 'mess about' and not keep their attention....!

Well, ENTER the Instructor!  Its the Instructors role to keep a happy medium in their class.  To know whom has the greater attention span, or focus and to accept differences in abilities etc.  Its also their role to prevent people messing about and to keep their attention as much as possible.  

Read that again.  

'As much as possible'.  

Why do I say that? I say that because at the end of the day, these ARE very young children, their attention WILL wonder and they WILL incline to not do as they are instructed at times.  Thats why we do such a program.  To give them structure, disguised repetition to make sure they are practising the basics (repetition is key in martial arts) without realising it, or enjoying themselves so much, they dont have a clue anyway.  Children learn best through fun, no more so than at this early age.   It's our job as Instructors to make sure they have fun AND increase their skills, their confidence and their abilities all at the same time.

That is why Little Champions exists and why it is so successful. ALL the students whom have graduated or rose up through this program into a regular class stand head and shoulders above those who haven't.

Even if all we were doing was giving these students some of our time and improving their concentration, listening skills, social interaction and much more of the benefits listed, then surely we have done a good job?  

Martial arts is meant to be about self improvement.  Early years PRE martial arts classes allow just that to happen, and much more.  

Thus are we not following the concepts of the arts by teaching them from such an early age?

I know for a fact we are. I say this from having around 14 years experience teaching this age group. Making mistakes, learning things, changing my mindset and finally bringing it all together in our Little Champions package.

The simple truth is. These Martial Artists either do not WANT to teach this age group as they are above this and its not real martial arts (nope, its PRE martial arts lol) or they dont know HOW to teach this age group.  Then there are those whom TRY to teach this age group and fail. Simply because they are trying to teach them the same syllabus they teach to everyone else which simply doesn't work. Or they go completely the other way and merely play games with them, which will eventually recline as parents will not see improvement in their 'martial' skills as none will be being delivered.

In conclusion, I decided, the people I need to teach this age group, need to have no ego, or misconstrued ideas of ability to age ratio.  

They simply need to be trained in simple martial movements; such as kicking, punching, blocking and evasion, basic children's anatomy and growth/capabilities, ways of keeping attention, ways of delivering information, passing on basic skills and making a child smile.

In truth, they need not be martial artists. Certainly not ones that are far too good to possibly lower themselves to teaching the next generation vital skills for the modern world. God forbid, we could lower ourselves to fit this bill.

You know who does fit this bill....?




Parents.

Teachers.

Dog walkers.

Hair dressers.

People who simply want to have fun and make people smile.

People like the ones reading this blog post.

People like....





...You.



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